Sunrise in Atlanta

5:00AM finds me walking into the kitchen of my sorority house with my computer, backpack and highly caffeinated tea. During any other time of the year I would expect the common area to be empty but this morning someone beat me and the sun. One of my sisters has fallen asleep at the table–computer open and books strewn from her lap to the floor. She’s pre-business and I know there is a macro exam today. Sensing my arrival she awakens, sheepishly looks around, gathers her belongings and goes upstairs (hopefully to bed). I’m left alone in the brightly lit space to think about the work that needs to be done. I also begin to think about the noticeable changes at Emory.
It’s once again the time of the year when campus is filled with energy. But unlike the typical energy that one expects to feel from young adults, this is the tense, electrified sort that can only arise from finals season. Walking around campus there are fewer and fewer students playing ultimate Frisbee on the quad and more and more with books and binders. Emory’s student life undergoes as dramatic a change as its flora. Everyone from Public Health and Law students to freshmen and seniors are feeling the strain of final papers and thesis defenses. Even the once bustling Greek life is winding down to wind up for the end of term. The multiple libraries are all full and the once “secret study spots” nestled in the basements of various buildings are no longer secrets.
By 3:00PM I find myself sitting in Starbucks watching the various patrons attack biology books, LSAT study guides and marketing strategy materials. It’s interesting to see each person with their books and their headphones, attempting to block out the world so they can better focus on the words in front of them. Sure, it seems like Emory just traded “play hard” for “work harder” but truth is that’s how things always are here. Emory, located in Decatur Georgia is very much an academic school. So much so that during December and May, the students here develop tunnel vision that borders on singularity.
Being one of those single minded students I understand how important it feels to stay afloat when it seems as though my peers are miles ahead. But as I enter into my sixth semester I’m beginning to realize that much of that feeling is perceived. My dad always says that life isn’t a race and there isn’t one way to get where you want to be. It’s taken me 20 years, but I think I’m finally starting to understand. During a run through Emory’s Lullwater Park last week I had the opportunity to watch the sun rise over Candler Lake. I took nearly half an hour for the sun to rise above the trees and in those minutes I felt calmer than I had in weeks. I think in our haste to be the next Supreme Court judge or corporate guru we forget that not everything needs to be done at full throttle. If the sun can take it’s time, so can I.
Contributed by: Meg R. DeFrancesco